Health's picture
Are sugar in the USA stores from GMO sugar beets?

A:Expert Answer

Thank you for this question! About half of all sugar sold in the United States comes from sugar beets. American grocery stores purchase sugar from a variety of sources and sell it under their own brand names or under a private brand name. Sugar from all sources has been tested at the molecular level, and scientific evidence has proven that there is no DNA or protein present in refined sugar. Therefore, sugar, whether from sugar beets and sugarcane or from sugar crops grown using conventional, biotech or organic methods, is identical. There is also no difference between domestically and internationally grown sugar. No matter where it came from, the refined sugar you buy at your local grocery store is the same and has the same nutritional value and composition.

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WheatLover's picture

I know some of it is, but I am not sure as to the total percentage. My rule of thumb is that if the bag says "Sugar" I assume it came from sugar beets, and if it says "Cane Sugar" I assume it came from sugar cane.

Though I am not sure the sugar itself could really be considered GMO. Table sugar, which is a sugar specifically known as sucrose, is a complex sugar molecule (disaccharide) formed from two simple sugar molecule (monosaccharide's) specifically the sugar molecules fructose and glucose which are present in a 1-1 ratio. This is true whether the sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.

njacosta's picture

Thank you for your explanation regarding the chemical composition of sugar. However, it doesn't seem to me that the question of whether sugar in US stores comes from GMO sugar beets was actually answered.

Community Manager's picture

Hi, njacosta! Thanks for contributing to the discussion on GMO Answers. In the answer above, Laura notes that "about half of all sugar sold in the United States comes from sugar beets." If you have any additional questions, we invite you to ask at

Rex Peterson's picture

I do not grow sugar beets, but live in an area that produces sugar beets. I did hoe and this sugar beets as a boy working along side migrant workers who made, adjusted for inflation, between $10 and$100 per day depending on how many rows they could block (thin) or weed. The season lasted about six weeks. Almost all sugar beets are roundup ready and much more reliable in germination. As a result, I never see gangs of workers in the sugar beet fields any more.